May 27, 2004

East Turkestan: Amnesty International report 2004

Extract of the Amnesty International report, concerning the East Turkestan Human Rights situation
Despite a few positive steps, no attempt was made to introduce the fundamental legal and institutional reforms necessary to bring an end to serious human rights violations. Tens of thousands of people continued to be detained or imprisoned in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association, and were at serious risk of torture or ill-treatment. Thousands of people were sentenced to death or executed. Restrictions increased on the cultural and religious rights of the mainly Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang, where thousands of people have been detained or imprisoned for so-called "separatist" or "terrorist" offences. In Tibet and other ethnic Tibetan areas, freedom of expression and religion continued to be severely restricted. China continued to use the international "war against terrorism" as a pretext for cracking down on peaceful dissent.

Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

The authorities continued to use the international "war against terrorism" to justify harsh repression in Xinjiang, which continued to result in serious human rights violations against the ethnic Uighur community. The authorities continued to make little distinction between acts of violence and acts of passive resistance. Repression was often manifested through assaults on Uighur culture, such as the closure of several mosques, restrictions on the use of the Uighur language and the banning of certain Uighur books and journals.

The crack-down against suspected "separatists, terrorists and religious extremists" intensified following the start of a renewed 100-day security crack-down in October. Arrests continued and thousands of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, remained in prison. Concerns increased that China was putting pressure on neighbouring countries to forcibly return Uighurs suspected of "separatist" activities, including asylum-seekers and refugees.

Officials confirmed in October that Shaheer Ali, who had been forcibly returned to China from Nepal in 2002, had been executed after being found guilty of "terrorist" offences in a closed trial. He had been recognized as a refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Nepal. Shaheer Ali had secretly left behind a detailed testimony in which he described being beaten, given electric shocks and kicked unconscious during a previous period of detention in 1994.

Source: Amnesty International